A U.S. policeman said he released photographs of accused Boston marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including one with a red dot of a sniper rifle's laser sight on his forehead, to counter a "fluffed and buffed" image of him on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy took the photographs during the manhunt for Tsarnaev, the younger of two brothers accused of killing three people and wounding more than 260 at the Boston Marathon on April 15 by detonating two pressure-cooker bombs. The elder brother was killed in the hunt.
Murphy, a police tactical photographer, said he decided to release the images in response to the portrait of Tsarnaev on an upcoming cover of Rolling Stone, saying the picture of him with shaggy hair and a light beard glamorized "the face of terror".
"What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine," he said in a statement carried by Boston Magazine, which published more than a dozen of his pictures on its website on Thursday.
Boston Magazine said later on Thursday that Murphy had been "relieved of his duty" hours after releasing the photographs and the status of the sergeant's duty would be reviewed next week.
Massachusetts State Police declined to comment on whether Murphy had been suspended. In a statement, spokesman David Procopio said only that the release of the photographs of Tsarnaev's capture was unauthorized.
A day earlier, Boston officials reacted angrily to the portrait of Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone's August issue, over the headline: "The bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster."
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino called the cover "a total disgrace," and the drugstore chain CVS Caremark Corp refused to sell the magazine.
Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty in court last week to all charges in a 30-count indictment. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; editing by Elizabeth Piper)